‘Hunchback’ Offers Timeless Tale Against Timely Headlines

Production at Minnesota State Mankato Enters Final Weekend

SOUNDBITE: Theatre Director Paul Hustoles on the timeliness and social significance of Minnesota State University, Mankato’s musical stage adaptation of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Quasimodo (Billy Gleason) is delighted to be “On Top of the World,” in the bell tower of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, with his new friend, Esmeralda (Delanie Wiedrich). Minnesota State Mankato’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame follows the Disney animation storyline and features music written by composers of such blockbusters as Wicked and Beauty and the Beast.

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by LENNY KOUPAL, CSU Communications Coordinator

The bells of Notre Dame will ring this weekend as cast and director of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at Minnesota State University, Mankato enter final performances reflecting on this week’s devastating fire of the iconic 850-year-old cathedral.

For Paul Hustoles, director of Minnesota State Mankato’s Theatre’s latest musical, said production plans started over a year ago for this adaptation based on the Disney animation of Victor Hugo’s 1831 classic,. This week’s Notre Dame Cathedral fire proved to be an eerie twist of fate.

“This is just a really strange coincidence that it would happen while we are doing the show,” Hustoles said.

‘The reason I like the show so much is because there are gypsies coming to Paris. The so-called church-going people want to get rid of all foreigners and they build walls…I think it’s incredibly timely for political reasons but then coincidentally timely because of what happened.’

Paul Hustoles, Director of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Final weekend performances of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. All performances are in the renovated Ted Paul Theatre in the University’s Earley Center for the Performing Arts.

Remaining tickets for this weekend may be purchased through the theatre box office open weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. Tickets by phone can be purchased at that time by calling 507-389-6661.

Hustoles said the cast hasn’t met since the fire, but he spoke with key cast members after watching shocking scenes from Monday’s fire. He added that one of the show’s special effects may have heightened emotional impact for cast and audience.

“One of the big things that happen in this show – it’s rather spectacular – the bells fly in. It will be very interesting to see what the audience does when that happens,” Hustoles said.

He added that the bells and the rose window featured in the performance were among those notable cathedral features spared by firefighting efforts.

The director said other aspects of Hunchback’s storyline are as timely as today’s headlines.

“The reason I like the show so much is because there are gypsies coming to Paris. The so-called church-going people want to get rid of all foreigners and they build walls,” Hustoles said. “I think it’s incredibly timely for political reasons but then coincidentally timely because of what happened (this week).”

Written in 1831, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is Victor Hugo’s tale of Quasimodo, the deformed, yet tender-hearted, bell ringer for Notre Dame who is shown compassion by a young gypsy street dancer. The Disney version of tragic love told through animation and music raised awareness and controversy around what is interpreted as good and evil, ugly and magnanimous.

Having done previous stage versions of Disney productions, Hustoles said he wasn’t planning to direct this show until the musical director suggested he take a second look.

“It was never done on Broadway. The reason it was never done on Broadway is because it is the most un-Disney thing that Disney ever did,” Hustoles said. “It’s serious. It has character. It has plot. And yet it’s also incredibly romantic.”

The show’s music also features two heavy hitters. Composer Alan Menken is credited with the musical score for such Disney animated blockbusters as Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. Lyricist Stephen Schwartz is best known for the Broadway smash hit, Wicked.

Hustoles said the cast of Hunchback is one of the largest for an MSU production. Along with the leads and support cast, the show features an onstage choir comprised of students from the music department.  

“Four out of the five leads are graduating seniors,” he added. “It’s really fun when you can go out on a literal high note.”

The title role features Billy Gleason as Quasimodo. Senior All-American Actor Mathew Sather appears as Captain Phoebus.

‘Our Esmeralda is played by Delanie Wiedrich, who is an All-American Actress. Two years ago when she won the status as best musical theatre actor in our region – which put her in the top eight in the country – she did a song from Hunchback.’

Paul Hustoles

“Our Esmeralda is played by Delanie Wiedrich, who is an All-American Actress,” Hustoles added. “Two years ago when she won the status as best musical theatre actor in our region – which put her in the top eight in the country – she did a song from Hunchback.”

That song, “Someday,” has earned “screaming ovations” for Wiedrich in the opening weekend, Hustoles added.

This weekend’s production closes MSU Theatre’s main stage season for the University’s sesquicentennial year. Hustoles said it’s not yet known if this week’s events will prompt ticket sales for the stage adaptation of Disney’s animated version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

“We normally get a bump in our second weekend,” he said. “The word of mouth (on this show) has been really very good. Many people thought this was the best show they’ve seen in quite some time, and I think we do pretty good shows. So that is a high compliment for us.”

Hustoles added that last Thursday’s snow also caused audience members to move their reservations to the second weekend.

One thing is for certain, audiences of this Disney musical will have a distinct historic perspective of an eight-century-old cathedral set against a 19th century social tale wrapped around today’s headlines of destruction and rebirth. Some could say that is theatre at its finest.

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Organized eSports Coming to Minnesota State Mankato?

Survey Looks At Popularity, Possibilities

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by BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Assistant

Take the gaming survey to provide feedback on gaming habits like systems used and games played.

One of the fastest growing communities in the world could soon have a new home at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

A group of Minnesota State Mankato staff recently completed a research report on eSports and its presence across colleges and universities across Minnesota and the rest of the United States.

The report was submitted to University administration and is being reviewed to determine the feasibility of having eSports as an active part of student life at Minnesota State Mankato.

Ben Nelson, marketing & facilities coordinator for MSU Campus Recreation, has been one of the leads on the research and thinks bringing eSports to campus could help build friendships and community.

“We want gamers to able to experience that community beyond their screens and headsets and to be able to game together on campus.”

Nelson and the team have been surveying campuses similar in size to Minnesota State Mankato to find out if they have an eSports program and, if so, how it operates. They found that although several campuses have eSports programs, there doesn’t appear to be one magic recipe for how eSports groups are started, funded and supported.

“There’s no clear home for eSports in a lot of universities,” Nelson said. “Some schools have eSports under the same umbrella as NCAA sports like basketball volleyball. Others are based out of academic areas, some are based out of recreational areas and some are based out of student unions.”

Not even the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA), a leader in advising campus recreation programs, had an idea of where to house eSports.

“It’s not typical to what campus recreation is used to offering. It’s not a physical sport,” Nelson said. “Even in the campus rec world there’s a divide between ‘Is this part of us?’ or ‘Is this not a part of us.'”

Nelson thinks Minnesota State Mankato would benefit most from housing eSports in Campus Rec with a mix of intramurals and competitive club teams.

“The most likely route would be an eSports umbrella with subsequent RSO’s dedicated to different games underneath that umbrella,” Nelson said.

But getting to that point will still require funding and resources from the University. Nelson said the University would have to determine if it wanted to invest in gaming systems and computers, a dedicated space for the gaming, travel and/or other expenses associated with the formation of eSports.

There’s no timeline for eSports at this time as the preliminary research just concluded and was passed on to administration. Nelson said if students continue to show interest and support, it could help push the idea forward. He said the best way for students to help is go to the Campus Rec Facebook page and take the gaming survey to provide feedback on gaming habits like systems used and games played.

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Student Fee Referendum Passes By 16 Votes

Omar, Trenne Win; Inauguration April 17

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Passing by a 16-vote margin, students Tuesday supported a 4.9 percent increase to the Student Activity Fee in a Student Government ballot that included selection of Anisa Omar and Andrew Trenne with Empowering Mavericks as the incoming president and vice president.

2019-20 Student Government President Anisa Omar and Vice President Andrew Trenne.

Voter results for the referendum were 715 votes for the fee amendment and 699 opposed.

The passed amendment increases average student fees from $8.36 to $8.77 per credit hour effective in Fall 2019. Student Activity Fees support a range of programs including busing, student activities, theater and dance, multicultural student activities, and international student activities.

By more than twice the combined votes for the remaining two candidate tickets, Omar and Trenne received 1,044 votes to assume Student Government leadership for the 2019-2020 academic year. Other candidates on the ballot included Kayla Erickson/Logan Dahlk with Maverick: United As One, and write-in candidates Lindsey Leonard/Nick Krekelberg.

The Empowering Mavericks ticket had candidates in most senate races and all but swept the election. Elijah Calderon-Pitchford with Mavericks: United As One was named to one of two senator spots for the College of Allied Health and Nursing. Julia Nellis with Mavericks: United As One was named to an Off-campus Residents seat. Alejandra Bejarano was elected by write-in ballot for College of Graduate Studies. Appointed requires candidate’s acceptance.

Empowering Mavericks earning senate seats include:

College of Allied Health & Nursing: Gretchen Bygd

College of Social & Behavioral Sciences: Shayla Schumacher

Student Body At Large: Arnavee Maltare and Mohammad Sajal

College of Science, Engineering & Technology: Avishek Pradhan, Samikshya and Bishal Patel

College of Arts & Humanities: Olivia Schmidt and Paige Johnson

College of Business: Fadumo Mohamed and Toun Shokunbi

Off-campus Residents: Khaled Souleymane, Andrew Weinzierl, Janet Somah, Fatima Bana, Sneha Bhusal, Agol Akot, Rakhi Karki

Residential Life Residents: Alexander Prom, Sophie Hoiseth, Nolan Bessler, Emma Zellmer, and Jaydon Dickey

Newspaper Board: Jonathan Fjeld

Centennial Student Union Board: Arnavee Maltare and Jaydon Dickey

Inauguration for Omar, Trennen and the 87th Student Government Senate is set for Wednesday, April 17, at 5 p.m. in the CSU Hearth Lounge.

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Global Feminism Event Seeks Different Yet Shared Voice

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by ABIGAIL SKAALERUD, CSU Public Relations Intern

Different voices forming a shared voice is the vision for a Global Feminism Event hosted by the International Student’s Association and Women’s Center on Thursday, March 21.

The 4 p.m. program will be in Ostrander Auditorium. Guest speaker for the event is LaBelle Nambangi, a feminist involved in various forms of activism.

Dominik Drabent, ISA event coordinator, said the program recognizes women come from various backgrounds, cultures and lives yet share a similar role of being a woman.

“There will be different voices from different cultural backgrounds,” Drabent said. “The goal is to put a light of the different experiences women of different areas and cultural backgrounds have with feminism around the world.”

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MSU Looks to Defend “March Gladness” Title

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by BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Assistant

MSU is trying to defend their title in a March competition, but it’s not for a sport, it’s for card making.

The competition, called “March Gladness,” is hosted by an organization called Cardz for Kidz, a nonprofit with a goal to get as many handmade cards as possible sent to terminally ill children in hospitals all around the world.

The competition began March 1 and ends March 31. The competitors are any and all universities across the nation and the competition is scored simply by which university creates and delivers the most cards. Last year, in its first year of competition, MSU won the competition by creating 571 cards, all of which went to Shriners Hospitals for Children in St. Louis, Mo.

Karen Anderson, Director of Community Engagement at MSU, hopes MSU can defend its title, but says another school may be looking to pull off the upset.

“We have heard rumors that a school in Wisconsin [is] attempting to challenge us,” she said.

In an effort to make a big push for card creation, the Community Engagement Office (CEO), set up a competition for RSO’s. The competition is ongoing and interested groups are asked to reach out to the CEO to get a supply kit to make cards. The three RSO’s that make the most cards will receive a cash prize. The deadline for submitting created cards is March 25 at 4 p.m. More information on the competition can be found on Engage.

Anderson hopes the internal competition can help MSU win the national competition. She’s also hoping the international students can use their diverse backgrounds to contribute to the competition and create extra special cards.

“One of the very special things about MSU is that we have a so many international students, and with that comes the ability to write cards in many different languages,” she said.

Cards in different languages and ones that had significant effort go in to making them have profound impacts on the kids who receive them.

MSU has been a partner with Cardz for Kidz for a few years and is the only university in the country to be recognized as a “Platinum” partner. MSU achieved this status by having created more than 1,000 cards since the beginning of the partnership.

For more information on Cards for Kidz, visit their website cardzforkidz.org.

For more information on the card competition, contact the Community Engagement Office or visit Engage.

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Women’s Center March Schedule of Events

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In celebration of Women’s History Month and its 40th birthday, the MSU Women’s Center is hosting a series of fun events to invite, involve and inspire women.

March 14, 6 to 9 p.m.: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Film & Discussion in the Multicultural Center hosted by Black Motivated Women

March 19, 11 a.m. to noon & noon to 1 p.m.: Women’s Careers in the Military in CSU 201

March 19, 4 to 5 p.m.: “The Hate U Give” book discussion in CSU 218

March 20, 4:30 to 6 p.m.: Writing Herstory in CSU 253/4/5

March 21, 4 to 6 p.m.: International Women’s Day #balanceforbetter co-hosted by Women of Action Council and the International Student Association, location: Ostrander Auditorium

March 21, 6 to 7 p.m.: Empowering Women in STEM, location: Trafton East 225

March 25, 5 to 7 p.m.: Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland co-sponsored by Black Motivated Women and the Women’s Center, location: CSU 218

March 27, 6:30 to 8 p.m.: Feminist Feast: Black Feminism in CSU 253/4/5

Additional information on the events can be found by visiting the Women’s Center’s Facebook Page.

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Buddies and ‘Spring Break Honeys’ Are Part of Safety Awareness

by ABIGAIL SKAALERUD, CSU Public Relations Intern


March is on the horizon. That can only mean one thing for college students… SPRING BREAK! Whether you are going to be in the Florida sun or the Colorado snow, we have tips for how to have a safe, fun and relaxing spring break!

Spring Break is a time of excitement and fun, but can also be frightening you aren’t careful about how you go about certain situations. Liz Steinborn-Gourley, director of the Women’s Center says that the best piece of advice is to “always have a buddy” and if you are in the sun or somewhere warm, “make sure to be drinking lots of water so no dehydration occurs.”

Liz mentioned “spring break honeys” and says that “If you want things to go in a physical direction, bring your own protection that you know and trust. Before becoming intoxicated, talk with your friends about what you are OK or not OK with doing.” If you choose a physical route, the LGBT Center has two free condoms per person and the Health Education office has 4 condoms for $1.

With the flowing excitement that can come with spring break and all the chaos going on around you, make sure to take safety precautions and make safe decisions throughout your time away!


Center Celebrates 40 Years of Helping Women

by BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Assistant


2019 marks the 40th year Minnesota State’s Women’s Center has been on campus helping and developing young women.

To celebrate this historic event, the Women’s Center is hosting many events open to the campus including a birthday party, keynote speakers, a Feminist Feast and more. A full list of the Women’s Center’s events can be found on their Facebook page.

Liz Steinborn-Gourley, director of the Women’s Center, cites underrepresentation across many job fields as one of the most important reasons for the Women’s Center and its programs.

“We are underrepresented in the political arena and in leadership,” she said. ” We exist to empower and inspire women to achieve and lead. We host programs and events that support the achievements of women.”

The Women’s Center achieves this through various events, programs and partnerships.

“We provide leadership opportunities through our Women of Action Council and we host programs and events focused on the advancement of women,” Steinborn-Gourley said. “We’ve collaborated with the Center for Science, Engineering, and Technology; Black Motivated Women; the Center for African American Affairs (sponsor for a portion of the Pan African Conference); VARP; LGBT Center; Student Activities; Residential Life; and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX.”

Steinborn-Gourley also noted the office the Women’s Center uses, located in the CSU 218, is shared with Violence Awareness and Response Program.

“(It) provides confidential advocates for students who have experienced violence,” she said.

The Women’s Center’s resources and outreach impact many Minnesota State Mankato students. Steinborn-Gourley estimates more than 750 students have attended programs or used resources from the center, something she contributes to the students.

“The student voice really drives what we do here,” she said.

Some of the Women’s Center’s most popular events in recent years have included the Laverne Cox lecture, which drew one of the largest crowds attending a Carol Ortman Perkins. Other successful events include the Feminist Feast, Galentine’s Day and other lecture series speakers like Kate Chance from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In addition to events, programs and resources, the Women’s Center also provides students a great place to just relax and hang out.

“We can provide referrals and we have a lounge space that’s open to all students and we often provide free coffee, a comfortable space to hang out and great discussion,” Steinborn-Gourley said.

The success of the Women’s Center’s events, programs and resources shows how far it has come since it first opened in 1979, when it’s primary function was to support lower numbers of women on the campus as well as assist with women who had children, or left to get married and then returned to college.

The Women’s Center is in the middle of an assessment year and continues to look at how they can continue to best serve the needs of the students. Steinborn-Gourley asks students to be honest with this assessment and continue to help the center.

“If you’re one of the select students asked to complete the survey about the Women’s Center, I encourage you to offer your honest feedback so we can shape the Center to serve you,” she said.

Steinborn-Gourley also wants students, especially those who have never been to the Women’s Center, to come check it out.

Additional information about the Women’s Center and their 40th Birthday Celebration can be found by visiting their Facebook page, or by contacting Steinborn-Gourley via email at elizabeth.steinborn-gourley@mnsu.edu.


28 Days of Honoring Black Excellence


by ABIGAIL SKAALERUD, CSU Public Relations Intern

For over ninety-three years now, Black History Month has been a major marker for the month of February. It is a month of remembering and honoring significant achievements and contributions made by African-Americans throughout history.

This year we decided to honor Black Americans by spotlighting two people on social media every day during the month of February. From Rosa Parks, an American activist in the civil rights movement, best known for the Montgomery Bus Boycott; all the way to Frederick Douglass, who was one of the first African-American NFL players in 1920, as well as the first African-American head coach in the NFL.

Besides social media being a platform to share the significance of Black History Month, our famous Tunesday in the CSU has been highlighting Black Americans such as Minnesota native, Prince, and others such as Beyonce and Michael Jackson. We have also been honoring the successes of Black Americans throughout the CSU on the big screens slideshow.

February will always be a month of honoring what Black Americans have done to better the United States, and that will be something to remember as long as time goes on.


Dreaming of Wakanda: MSU Welcomes Back Pan African Conference

by BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Assistant


The 43rd Dr. Michael T. Faign Pan African Conference will give MSU Mankato an immersive experience in African culture and will provide leadership opportunities for Black students.

According to the event’s official website, the Pan African Conference “will imagine new possibilities for economic justice, emancipatory education, and political solidarity. Inspired by the imaginary city featured in the film Black Panther, we will consider pan Africanism as a political project for healing, sustaining and loving ourselves. We invite secondary, post-secondary and community leaders to join us for this year’s conference as we proclaim “We are Wakanda!” to celebrate our diversity!”

The three-day event begins Wednesday, Feb. 27 and wraps up Friday, March 1. Events occur daily and include keynote speakers, breakout sessions, movie screenings, a career and internship fair, a game night, a royalty competition, food and much more.

Dr. Michael T. Faign and Keynote Speakers

The conference’s namesake, Dr. Michael T. Faign, highlights the prestigious list of keynote speakers.

“Dr. Faign is an emeritus professor and Pan African Leader who has served and been a member of the MSU community for over 45 years. Dr. Faign, a Detroit, Mich., native has served the institution in several roles including professor of African American studies, creator and chair of the ethnic studies program, associate professor for cultural diversity and several other rules,” the event’s website said.

The conference was named in Dr. Faign’s honor in 2010 to celebrate his many contributions to the university.

Additional keynotes include Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Ericka Huggins, Derrick Smith, Phillip Agnew and Leslie Redmond. Information about each of them can be found on the conference website.

Royalty Competition

The royalty competition will highlight young MSU scholars who are committed to developing their leadership skills, their education and the community. They will be scored on judged across a variety of events including a fashion show, questionnaire, talent show as well as their dedication to their culture and heritage through advocacy, ideas on social justice and advocacy for change for Africans on local, national and international scales.

The website notes the competition is not a popularity contest, “Royalty will be screened and selected based on the applicant’s ability to demonstrate academic performance, curricular and co-curricular involvement and contributions and passion to their University and community.”

Notable Events

Students, faculty and staff are all welcome to attend various events during the conference. Major events include Game Night Wednesday, Feb. 27, from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. in CSU 245 and the Royalty Competition & Fashion Showcase Thursday, Feb. 28, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the CSU Ballroom. The conference is screening Marvel’s Black Panther immediately following the Royalty Competition. A full schedule of events can be found here.

Anyone seeking more information about the conference is encouraged to visit the event’s website, or to contact any of the three conference co-chairs: Kenneth Reid (kenneth.reid@mnsu.edu), Dr. Agnes Odinga-Oluoch (agnes.odinga-oluoch@mnsu.edu) or Dr. Shannon Miller (shannon.miller@mnsu.edu). Registration, which is required for all attendees, can be found here.